Sun Country hires new CEO, president from Hallmark

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The Mendota-based Sun Country Airlines has hired a new CEO and president who will move over from Hallmark Business Connections, the company announced Friday.

Zarir Erani starts on Sept. 8 and takes over for Sun Country's John Fredricksen, MPR News reports. Erani lives in the Twin Cities, where Hallmark has a Minneapolis office; it also has locations in Duluth and Kansas City.

Erani will oversee the business operations at Sun Country. Fredricksen, who has been the top gun at Sun Country for three years, will stay with the company as a business manager, focusing on contract negotiations with the airline's pilots union, according to KSTP.

Sun Country has made headlines in recent weeks as the pilot labor dispute fell just short of an all-out strike after five years of negotiations.

Fredrickson came to the airline in 2013 when Sun Country abruptly replaced Stan Gadek as CEO.

Gadek oversaw the company's struggle through bankruptcy, which was caused by the Great Recession and the downfall of its former owner Tom Petters. Petters was sentenced to 50 years in prison for orchestrating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

The Star Tribune reports the CEO search has lasted for more than a year.

Erani earned his bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Mankato. He has an MBA and MIS from the University of St. Thomas.

According to his LinkedIn page, Erani has no airline experience.

Sun Country has 21 aircraft and flies to business hubs and vacation destinations as far as Central America.

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